Future coastal professionals


Carl Safina, he get's me thinking. (pc: NY Times)

Carl Safina, he get’s me thinking. (pc: NY Times)

I started with a question,

What are the personal and professional conflicts, if any, that coastal professionals negotiate in their management of the coast?

I am discovering that the things that make us to be coastal professionals are not what make us to be coastal professionals. I am reading, thinking and writing, and the thread I started to pull is unraveling a much larger problem than I first thought we were downing in.  My challenge is to not try to negotiate the perfect storm, rather, find a life boat, a floating raft to stay alive and perhaps carve the waves to safety.

Because the more I read, think and write, the more I realise the piece of the puzzle we need to understand is what can we (coastal professionals) do for the future of the coast. We are fascinated with predicting how the coast will change, but have we thought about how we (coastal professionals) will react and adapt to change.

I am reading Carl Safina’s vivid book, The View From Lazy Point. I am only a quarter in and can’t put it down. Why? He gets me thinking… as he writes:

The things that matter in the long run – life supporting systems and the very cycles that produce and facilitate people, culture, living things, and the future – are the things ethicists have almost completely ignored. That is quite an achievement of Western thought!

In the main, philosophy hasn’t had the world in mind. And the problem is – it shows – Carl Safina, The View From Lazy Point, p 36-37

I end up with more questions. More to read, think and write about. As he hits the nail on the head.  We see people rise to embrace change for conservation when we connect emotionally to an individual, an individual bird choking on plastic scooped up from the ocean, an ancient tree felled for a highway, a coastal dune destroyed for a pathway – perhaps. Yet, we forget to see the big picture. That, that one plastic bottle floating down the waterway will kill many more birds yet to be born. That, that coal mine awaiting approval will cause the rising of the sea that will morally and ethically impact generations to come.

“It’s Western Philosophy and Western Politics that have failed us”, writes Carl Safina. To morally and ethically negotiate what’s wrong from right, what’s right from wrong. We’ve tried to protect our utilitarian ethics with conservation listed  in Acts for decades, yet, the planet’s most magnificent creatures are dying from our blindness to see the whole picture. This is what I see is missing from our conversation for conservation.

The marketisation and politicisation of the coast is our biggest challenge. So, who do we need to be to negotiate this perfect storm?

I will leave it, not for long. Thank you Carl Safina for getting me to think beyond my horizon.